Twelve Years a Slave (Illustrated)

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I was quite disappointed with the numerous typos in the book and the fact that it appears spell check only was used. There were numerous words that should not have been included if only a person had proofed the book. Other than that, the story held my attention and for that, I give the book five stars.

This true tale and narrative takes the reader on a journey that starts with New Yorker Solomon Northup's happy life with his wife and children and plunges all into the hell that is slavery in the 's. Northup is enslavement is deftly told, both the horrors and the kindnesses that come his way. He is repeatedly challenged and yet holds up hope to ulitmately survive his ordeal in Louisiana. Solomon lived his slave life in the company of brutal men, but was fortunate to have had relationships with good men who came to his rescue. In this book his spirit lives on.

Much as an anthropologist studying a foreign tribe, he tries to give full picture of the Southern life and culture in that area of the South. This focus and his striking intellect make for a unique experience. Yes, sometimes the human story is slowed down a bit by the seeming diversions, but the fuller picture he provides is fascinating as well as searing. If being moved by a human story's raw power is primary, I would recommend Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl first - that book is unforgettable in its immediacy; the reader is pulled directly down into the dark pit of horrors that was slavery.

If instead, one wants a fuller historical and cultural study of the period, I would highly recommend this excellent book. In the end though, the distinction is a bit artificial. The world could be improved much if every American were to read both books and many other stories besides from other periods, books that describe periods of history in enough detail that they can be understood not only with the mind but also, even more importantly, with the heart!

View all 8 comments. When we think of cotton, we see something we consider fluffy, comfortable, and cosy, but for thousands of people, cotton and more precisely cotton fields were hell on earth. A lot of people were unlucky to be born in an era where your skin colour defined whether you were a master or a slave.

Black people from their late teens up to their deaths were working for days in cotton fields, in maize fields, on su cotton After reading this book, I will never see cotton under the same way ever again. Black people from their late teens up to their deaths were working for days in cotton fields, in maize fields, on sugar plantations, bringing high profits for their masters, but they were never considered workforce or even humans. They were something better than animals, but not humans. And what is worse than being born a freeman, live as a freeman, create a family and suddenly, at your early 30's you're kidnapped and you are sold as a slave, working for twelve miserable years.

Solomon's story has a happy ending. But for thousands and thousands of people their stories didn't. Let's make this book a symbol that indicates that All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights , something obvious to me but not for many people, even today. I don't think I will be able to watch the film. The great actor Michael Fassbender, was able to create an absolutely terrifying portrayal of the plantation owner Edwin Epps. View 2 comments. A lot of people are saying this book reads like a novel, but I couldn't disagree more. It reads like a man telling his life story, which is fascinating, giving what the man became for twelve years, but not as engrossing as some of the new journalism that came out in the 60s and 70s by people like Hunter S.

Thompson and Norman Mailer. Call it a book of its time.

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I actually saw the movie before I read the book, and there's an interesting difference. The movie is about the life of a slave, while th A lot of people are saying this book reads like a novel, but I couldn't disagree more. The movie is about the life of a slave, while the book is more about slave life. There's actually a huge difference between the two. While I could empathize more with Solomon in the movie, in the book, you actually get a sense that slave life wasn't as horrific as it truly was, given that Solomon presents a fair depiction of both a kindly slave owner and a tyrannical slave owner.

There's also much more hope in the book, which is refreshing, but it makes the situation not feel as dire as it truly was. This is one instance where I think the movie is better than the book. Give it a read to get probably the most accurate depiction of slave life ever put to page. Just don't expect it to read like a movie, because it doesn't. View all 15 comments.

A powerful and apparently true firsthand account from a free black man sold into slavery and his first to be free again. Twelve Years a Slave is gut-wrenching stuff written by an immensely readable writer. Northup's journey is incredible One has to continually remind oneself that he was not born into slavery, nor was he taken from overseas.

His education is evident. This is no ignorant man denied an education and made to struggle along communicating with Englis A powerful and apparently true firsthand account from a free black man sold into slavery and his first to be free again. This is no ignorant man denied an education and made to struggle along communicating with English as an untaught second language. In his accounts of his time upon Louisiana plantations he often is clearly more intelligent than his masters. So accustomed have we become to hearing former slave accounts relayed in some kind of pidgin English that it makes this cleanly and concisely related narrative seem like a fabrication.

The brutality is so finely detailed, the complete lack of justice so well elucidated and the story unfolded so seamlessly, that a reader wouldn't be faulted for mistaking Northup for an established novelist. Twelve Years a Slave is gripping for its subject and execution, and I highly recommend it. This is a horrifying story made only worse by the fact that it is all true. I'll leave other reviews to go on in detail about it. I don't even have the consolation that 'well, at least it doesn't happen anymore'.

Chattel slavery and abduction are still hideous problems the world over. It's all very grim to think about. Still, the world owes Northrup a debt of gratitude for bring the truth about such an awful system and the abuses it caused. The concept was new to me and I imagine it was probably very common considering that is full profit for a slave trader not having to buy a slave and then sale for profit. I can't say that I absolutely loved his book.

I also can't say that I believe most of what was written to be a fact. What I believe is that he was k 12 Years a Slave is probably the most unique slave book that I've read so far because I can't say that I have ever read about a free person being kidnapped and sold into slavery. What I believe is that he was kidnapped, drugged and brutalized and then sold. I also believe he gained his freedom.

But I must admit that I have my doubts about a lot of the "meat" inbetween. For that reason alone I took away a star. I took another star away because it was a very dry read and filled with unnecessary information. I think everyone should read it at least once. I believe it is an important book and I can't believe that I didn't know who Solomon was before it was choosen by a member in my bookclub!

It was a bit disappointing because I was a bit bored with Solomon's story and was more interested in some of the side characters Patsey, Celeste, and Eliza.


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The end was rushed. I would have loved a full chapter or two once he returned home. But 3 stars I think will suffice for this sad story.

12 Years a Slave movie review

I can say that it was chilling, heart breaking, gut wrenching, atrocious and none of these words can aptly describe Solomon Northup's experience as told in this memoir. I did not know about this book until I saw the movie last month.

Twelve Years a Slave: (Illustrated) (Narrative of Solomon Northup)

During the brutal lashing scenes and the heart breaking scene of a mother separated from her children, you could hear a pin drop in the theater. I left the movie theater, frantically looking in the Amazon app for the book.


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After I finished the book, I felt that same I can say that it was chilling, heart breaking, gut wrenching, atrocious and none of these words can aptly describe Solomon Northup's experience as told in this memoir. After I finished the book, I felt that same sense of being speechless that I felt after the movie. What can you possible say that would do it justice? I recently read The Invention of Wings, an amazing book and said that the depiction of slavery here felt so real, but it is in Solomon Northup's memoir that we can see the reality of what slavery was about.

He tells it with such eloquence. This should be part of the curriculum for every course in American History. View all 18 comments. Distressing, powerful and fascinating. This offers up an interesting, and in some ways, singular perspective into a part in history. Although some people may compare it to other narratives of the same time and find them more valid, I disagree - this is one mans experience of Slavery in the south and an experience equally worth reading about.

The gut wrenching account, apparently true, of Solomon Northrup, a free black man, with wife and children living in New York State. He is kidnapped and sold as a slave, then shipped south to work on the plantations in Bayou Boeuf Louisiana. He spends most of the twelve years under the cruel tyranny of a sadistic plantation owner named Epps. His eventual escape and return to New York and his family occurs only after a series of events that aren't much short of a miracle.

The narrative is painfull The gut wrenching account, apparently true, of Solomon Northrup, a free black man, with wife and children living in New York State. The narrative is painfully difficult to read and is a reminder of the tragedy that was inflicted on generations of a people that lived, suffered, and died in bondage. Let them know the heart of the poor slave--learn his secret thoughts--thoughts he dare not utter in the hearing of white man; let them sit by him in the silent watches of the night--converse with him in trustful confidence of 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,' and they will find ninety-nine out of every hundred are intelligent enough to understand their situation, and to cherish in their bosoms the love of freedom, as passionately as themselves.

I didn't learn anything I didn't already know about the dreadful institution of slavery but it was enlightening to read a first hand experience of the horror of a free Black man kidnapped and sold into slavery in Texas and Louisiana. He survived by wit, cunning and by being smarter than white human cockroaches my apology to the insect around him.

My heart ached for all the thousands of souls who didn't make it out of bondage. It's hard to read because of the sordid and painful content and I had to take time away from it.

Twelve Years a Slave (Illustrated) (Inkflight) by Solomon Northup | | Booktopia

The writing is good, though written in a very old style and syntax and I found the narrative fascinating. Highly recommended for those who can bear it. View all 10 comments. Oct 11, B. Shelves: biography , non-fiction-stuff. My object is, to give a candid and truthful statement of facts: to repeat the story of my life, without exaggeration, leaving it for others to determine, whether even the pages of fiction present a picture of more cruel wrong or a severer bondage.

I don't simply mean the film in thea " I can speak of Slavery only so far as it came under my own observation—only so far as I have known and experienced it in my own person. I don't simply mean the film in theaters as of November , but the old Gordon Parks directed tv-movie called Solomon Northup's Odyssey. So I should have tracked this one down before watching that amazing film that is out now.

That said, this book is incredible in its scope and detail. Northup's book distinguishes itself because it is a slave narrative written by someone not born and raised a slave. He describes his family history, the circumstances of his kidnapping, the history of his life in bondage and his rescue, and the mechanism and culture of Slavery in great detail.

He tries his best not to leave any little detail to the imagination, so if you know nothing about Slavery in the United States, this is the book you should pick-up first.

Twelve Years A Slave, Illustrated Edition

It is a story so real and sadly so relevant given the problem of human-trafficking and slavery that still exist. The thing I find interesting about the autobiographies of slaves is the variety of experience from the different perspectives. Not much more to do beyond recommending you check this book out and letting Mr. Northup have the last word: " My narrative is at an end. I have no comments to make upon the subject of Slavery. Those who read this book may form their own opinions of the "peculiar institution.

Twelve Years a Slave (Illustrated and Appendix, with Introduction)

This is no fiction, no exaggeration I doubt not hundreds have been as unfortunate as myself; that hundreds of free citizens have been kidnapped and sold into slavery, and are at this moment wearing out their lives on plantations in Texas and Louisiana. But I forbear. Chastened and subdued in spirit by the sufferings I have borne, and thankful to that good Being through whose mercy I have been restored to happiness and liberty, I hope henceforward to lead an upright though lowly life, and rest at last in the church yard where my father sleeps. View all 13 comments.

Slavery is an abomination. The United States was from its independence from England a nation that relied heavily on slavery. It was not a land of equality and it did not offer freedom for all. This book is an autobiography written by Solomon Northup, a free Black kidnapped and taken into slavery for twelve years. He was from Upper-state New York. He played the fiddle.

Given a proposition to earn extra money doing just this, he agreed to travel to Washington D. It was here he was kidnapped and Slavery is an abomination. It was here he was kidnapped and illegally sold into slavery. This was in In through the help of a white Canadian he regained his freedom. Within a few months his story was published.

According to Wiki, "The first scholarly edition of Northup's memoir, co-edited in by Sue Eakin and Joseph Logsdon, carefully retraced and validated the account and concluded it to be accurate. This is an excellent book to read after Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad ; it gives you the personal story of the historical events summarized in Foner's book. I liked this book because it shows how history played out in ONE person's life.

What I admire most is the dignity with which Solomon Northup relates his tale. This is no sobfest. It is without melodrama. This isn't necessary given that the events themselves are so terrible. I admire his restraint. I admire that he details other aspects than his own tragic events.

He talks of Christmas celebrations and cotton and sugar cane production, clothing and meals and food and of course the injustices committed. The writing is clear and straightforward, as well as the audiobook narration by Hugh Quarshie. I did sometimes wish I could have questioned the author about facts that seemed a bit unclear.

A three star book IS worth reading. I feel I must repeat this over and over again. I wanted to read this prior to seeing the movie, narrated through Solomon Northup a black man living in New York who is kidnapped and thrust into slavery. Being told as a memoir makes this tough subject matter seem even more horrifying real, especially the experiences that some of the black women had to endure.

An enjoyable read, although distressing in parts. This true narrative is a must read, especially for right thinkers. What folly is man's inhumanity towards other men! We all bear the responsibility to prevent even an inkling of such injustice wherever in the world it is still perpetrated. About time I read this one. Men may write fictions portraying lowly life as it is, or as it is not - may expatiate with owlish gravity upon the bliss of ignorance - discourse flippantly from arm chairs of the pleasures of slave life; but let them toil with him in the field - sleep with him in the cabin - feed with him on husks; let them behold him scourged, hunted, trampled on, and they will come back with another story in their mouths.

Let them know the heart of the poor slave - learn his secret thoughts - thoughts he dare not utter in the hearing of the white man; let them sit by him in the silent watches of the night - converse with him in trustful confidence, of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and they will find that ninety-nine out of every hundred are intelligent enough to understand their situation, and to cherish in their bosoms the love of freedom, as passionately as themselves.

I had not then learned the measure of "man's inhumanity to man," nor to what limitless extent of wickedness he will go for the love of gain. This was such a profound, heart-rending, eye opening and enlightening read. I was literally, an emotional roller coaster while perusing the pages of the book and found it difficult if not impossible to stop once I had started.

Words fail me to express how necessary and important it is, to not on read to gain a better understanding but also to be ab Atlas! Words fail me to express how necessary and important it is, to not on read to gain a better understanding but also to be able to pass on to our current and future generations the aflications of those held and oppress by such an unfathomable period. Is it weird to have a favorite slave narrative? Somebody needs to make a superhero-style comic about this man.

Northup was born free and lived most of his first thirty-three years in New York, where he married and had three children. His wife, Anna, was a chef and one of his talents was playing the violin, so during the social season they often parted ways and took temporary jobs in catering and entertaining.

In Is it weird to have a favorite slave narrative? In Northup was approached by two friendly men who offered him a violin-playing job in New York City. Thinking he wouldn't be gone long, he didn't leave a note for Anna, who had already found a job away from home. The two men persuaded him to accompany them to Washington, D. He awoke shackled in the slave pen of one Burch, who beat him into silence when he protested that he had been kidnapped.

Burch sold him down South to Louisiana where, as the title says, he spent the next twelve years of his life enslaved. Until the very end of this period, he kept his history a secret, even his name -- he went by the name "Platt" which Burch had assigned him. This was a country from which total escape, it seems, was unheard of -- too much of the South to travel North through, too much careful searching of departing ships, dangerous swamps.

People did sometimes manage to escape to the swamps for a short respite from their work. Northup went there once, on the run after beating up one of his masters a scene I would very much like to see in comic-book form. He had the advantage of being able to swim, and, although the swamp was full of alligators and poisonous snakes, none of them hurt him. His plan was to send a letter to the white men he had known in New York, enlisting their help to rescue him.

It took him nine years to obtain a piece of paper for this act, and then he had to burn the letter because the person he had nearly trusted to tried to betray him. Not until the last year did he find one trustworthy white man who could help him. In his twelve years in Louisiana Northup observed the slaveholding South in great detail, and he reports in his book about the personalities of his different masters and fellow slaves, architecture and social customs, and how the work of cotton- and sugar-production was done.

This is all fascinating but what I love best is to read about the ingenuity, courage, and physical prowess of Northup himself. Partly because of what he learned in his early life in the North, but I think mostly because he was an extraordinarily intelligent man, he was able to do so many novel things: For his first master, he proposed and executed a system of river transportation that greatly improved on the road transportation hitherto used.

After examining another plantation's loom, he built one himself that worked perfectly. He invented a fish trap so that slaves whose masters had not given them enough food didn't have to hunt at night after exhausting themselves in the fields. He made his own ink for the first letter-writing attempt. There are also many examples of his strength and dexterity at some things -- he admits that he was terrible at picking cotton.

My favorite occurs when his master Epps makes him a driver of the other slaves, requiring him to whip them: If Epps was present, I dared not show any lenity, not having the Christian fortitude of a certain well-known Uncle Tom sufficiently to brave his wrath, by refusing to perform the office. In that way, only, I escaped the immediate martyrdom he suffered, and, withal, saved my companions much suffering, as it proved in the end.

Solomon Northup

If, on the other hand, he had seen me use the lash freely, the man was satisfied. If Epps was observed at a distance, or we had reason to apprehend he was sneaking somewhere in the vicinity, I would commence plying the lash vigorously, when, according to arrangement, they would squirm and screech as if in agony, although not one of them had in fact been even grazed.

View 1 comment. I am afraid that I am guilty this time around of watching the movie before reading the book. It is a detailed account of 12 years of his life that he spent as a slave. The brutalities that he had to endure, the psychological torture that it was and the stories of the people who touched his life in one way or the other.

He not only narrates his own story, but through knowing him and hi I am afraid that I am guilty this time around of watching the movie before reading the book. He not only narrates his own story, but through knowing him and his life we learn more about other slaves, slave catchers, the general conditions of a slave and also the relationship between the master and a slave. When we hear about slaves, we pity them thinking that they had a hard and difficult life. But to hear the first hand account of that life breaks your heart so badly. It was so difficult to imagine that a person had to live a life like that and then go back to our own comfortable lives.

His trials and tribulations over those years are bound to touch a person in the most deepest ways - to be beaten physically in an inhuman manner may still be bearable, but the psychological torture that it was and the effect it can have on a person is so immense.

What a book! This is a must read! It's hard to imagine being taken away from your home and made a slave for 12 long years. It was a hard read, but again a must read. View all 3 comments. I was impressed by this account, especially since it was documented almost immediately upon his return to freedom when his memories were fresh.

This powerful narrative vividly depicts life of a slave in the antebellum American South, including slave pens, sales, quarters, abuses, and the processes of picking cotton and harvesting sugar cane. Though he suffered severe misery, both physically and mentally, Solomon Northup never gave up hope of being released.